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Understanding sport event ticket-type preference in a forced e-ticket environment

Nels Popp (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA)
Jason M. Simmons (University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)
Danielle Kushner Smith (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA)
Rachel Tasker (University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 26 January 2021

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021




Many sport venues utilize digital ticketing, in some instances exclusively. Forced technology adoption among ticket buyers in nonsport contexts, (i.e. airline passengers) has been shown to produce negative responses among consumers. The purpose of the current study is to examine sport consumer response to forced e-ticket adoption.


E-surveys were disseminated to attendees of a major NCAA Division I football conference championship game where digital tickets were required for entry for the first time in event history. Mixed methods were utilized to examine both quantitative and qualitative data from 1,821 respondents.


Among respondents, 29.6% indicated a preference for traditional paper tickets and 48.3% preferred e-tickets, with younger patrons more likely to prefer the digital option. No significant difference related to future consumption was found between those preferring hard tickets and those preferring e-tickets. An analysis of qualitative responses revealed five primary themes for hard ticket preference: (1) ease of use, (2) souvenir, (3) reliability, (4) lack of technology and (5) preference. Five primary themes supporting e-ticket preference were also uncovered: (1) convenience, (2) simplicity, (3) familiarity, (4) paperless and (5) security.


The current study is the first to examine actual sport event consumers in a forced self-service technology environment. Also, no previous studies have explored respondents' preference motivations. The current study is also the first to link both age and future consumption to ticket-type preference.



Popp, N., Simmons, J.M., Smith, D.K. and Tasker, R. (2021), "Understanding sport event ticket-type preference in a forced e-ticket environment", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 287-301.



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